Review: "Donna" - Donna Summer (Box Set)

by Claudia A,

A wonderful Christmas treat for fans of the late, great Donner Summer! Two fantastic vinyl and CD box sets of the iconic singer, songwriter and performer are released on Donna’s own ‘Driven By The Music’ imprint through Crimson Records. The sets feature seven albums plus an array of irresistible extras – offering an interesting cross-section of the singer’s career which spanned 35 years!

The Vinyl Collection includes original albums plus a free download card featuring all tracks plus mixes contained on the equivalent CD format, a 12 inch square booklet with newly commissioned liner notes and a 12 inch square poster of the LP box set image. The CD Collection is in a case bound format containing original album credits, lyrics and liner notes plus bonus tracks for all of the albums, with the exception of I'm A Rainbow, and 6 postcards of the CD box set image. There will be additional extended versions available exclusively through D2C which will see the inclusion of an unreleased mix of a 2 track 12 inch single on both formats.

Including the albums The Wanderer, Donna Summer, Cats Without Claws, Mistaken Identity, All Systems Go, the double-album I’m A Rainbow and the triple-album Another Place and Time, the collection offers something for everyone and not just die-hard Donna Summer fans! A compelling mix of disco-pop, dance, soul, funk, rock ‘n’ roll, blues and even gospel demonstrates as to why the singer (born LaDonna Gaines in Boston) metamorphosed from the queen of the Giorgio Moroder-sound (Love To Love You Baby, I Feel Love) to a mature and award-winning artist of extraordinary caliber. One year after her untimely death from lung-cancer at the age of 63 she was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Stand-out tracks on THE WANDERER are, title song aside, the energetic dance number Looking Up and the gospel-influenced soul number I Believe in Jesus.

DONNA SUMMER offers nine fab tracks, of which The Woman In Me, Protection, and the Grammy-nominated Love Is In Control are particularly memorable. However, it is the truly mesmerising State Of Independence (featuring none other than Michael Jackson singing in the chorus, amongst numerous other showbiz luminaries!) that crawls under your skin. Oh, and three different mixes of the track are thrown in! Oh, and the album is produced by Quincy Jones!

CATS WITHOUT CLAWS is altogether rather dynamic, with opener Supernatural Love a fiery blend of disco soul and rockin’ hot guitar solos. The title song is in parts somewhat reminiscent of Jackson’s Thriller – at least were the beat is concerned. Oh Billy Please features a cool bass groove throughout, and on Maybe it’s Over it’s the sax intro that does it for me.

For those who like to move and shake it’s MISTAKEN IDENTITY that has some fab tracks, from Get Ethnic to Body Talk to What Is It You Want – influences here range from Madonna to Prince to Grace Jones. Or perhaps it’s the other way around… The album even includes a song called Fred Astaire – full of vintage feel and old-style musical charm blended with modern disco-beats.

ALL SYSTEMS GO once again offers a killer mix fusing catchy, melodic and slick with Madonna-esque grooves. Bad Reputation, Voices Cryin’ Out and Thinkin’ ‘Bout My Baby come on particularly strong. And Dinner With Gershwin needs no further introduction.

The double-album I'M A RAINBOW comes on all grown-up, accomplished and incredibly mature in sound, rich and full of soul, harmony and emotional power. Disc-2 includes La Donna’s take on Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, the smash hit from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hugely successful musical Evita – and Donna’s voice does the composition more than justice!

Finally, ANOTHER PLACE AND TIME with its Japanese-hued cover artwork is an absolute delight for fans of mixes, re-mixes, dub-versions and what have you! Disc-1 features ten tracks including This Time I Know It’s For Real, Breakaway, I Don’t Want To Get Hurt, Sentimental, When Love Takes Over You and Love’s About To Change My Heart amongst others. Discs-2-3 feature various remixes and versions of the aforementioned tracks, including a whopping eight versions of Love’s About To Change My Heart. That said, and unless you’re a hardcore fan of either track – the remix affairs could get a little repetitive to listen to.

The luxuriously presented collections effortlessly transport Donna Summer’s legacy into the 21st century and are a constant reminder of her place as a pioneering musical trendsetter.

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